Boy have I been pooped that last two nights. I fell asleep before 9pm both nights and have been getting up around 6-7am since I got here. Across the river (300+ yards wide) in Laos there has been a concert or something with music so loud that even across the river it sounds like you were playing it in the next room. It has been going for the past two nights and makes me wonder if everyone in Laos has serious hearing problems.
Yesterday I decided to visit Vientiane, the capital of Laos. I rationalized it by saying that if it was in the same country and I was 20km away I would go see it so why let it being in a different country stop me. Vientiane is a pretty cool city for a day. It is a mix between old French colonial buildings, Soviet style, and your generic block concrete buildings. There are a bunch of French style cafés along the river and I chilled in one and had breakfast. I then rented a bike 10,000 kip (8000=1usd, I exchanged money for better than the official rate) and rode around town. I then came back to Thailand in time to see the sunset on the Mekong.
Today I was going to rent a motorbike and go around, but the motor bike shops were closed on Sunday. I adapted and went to plan b (I had that capitalized and I realized that the only way it would be capitalized is if I was as talking about the birth control) which was renting a bike and having a vague idea where I was going (east). It was a good day of 25-30 miles which feels like more on a single speed cruiser. I ended the ride with an hour Thai massage (lots of elbows) for 150b (33=$1).
I am going to keep this one short on my activities and add some random observations.
In Bangkok a lot of tuk tuk and motorcycle taxi drivers were full face masks, like they were going to rob a bank. There is something disconcerting about getting a with someone who you can’t see their face.
Beer is pretty expensive at 65-95b. The most expensive dish I ordered was 120b, least 20b.
In Laos people were talking in baht, kip, and dollars. It got a little tiring trying to interchange 8000, 30-33, and 1. Also buying something for 120,000 makes it seem like play money. The Lao economy has really improved, about 4 years ago 1usd= 11500 kip.
Nong Khai is an awesome town with a decent amount to do and I am glad so few backpackers visit because it would change the vibe.
It got down to almost 50F in Nong Khai.
I learned that if you are traveling down the shoulder of the road going the wrong way you get the outer part of the road.
Ford 12 passenger vans do not come with a fuse for trailer lights preinstalled
As I was bartering about a fare for a 20km tuk tuk ride I realized that I spent 5 minutes haggling over $0.85. I know the fare is a rip off, but does it make a difference. The issue is paying the inflated fare then the next person will be quoted and forced to pay the higher fare and it might make a difference to them. Plus no one wants to get ripped off even if it is by 33 cents
Every town has between one and a ton temples. Almost all are made of concrete in the last 60 years and follow one of 7 standard formats from the concrete temple design book.
Everyone on a motorbike wears a helmet because it is a 500 b fine and a law that is actually enforced.
Reentering Thailand my immigration agent told me that since I was an American male I get a special 30 day visa, yay.
I have met two Americans so far (4 Canadians, a billion Brits, 10+ Aussies)